The Anobiid Powderpost Beetles

Article is from Techletter For Pest Control Technicians – – Volume 34, No. 2 – Published by Pinto & Associates, Inc. 

The Anobiid Powderpost Beetles – Tips for Identifying an Active Infestation

There are three groups of powderpost beetles that can infest wood in structures: lyctids, bostrichids, and anobiids. Of the three, the anobiids (family Anobiidae) have the greatest damage potential in certain parts of the country since they are more likely to infest structural wood. They primarily infest the sapwood portion of both new and old softwoods, as well as hardwoods.

There are more than 300 species of anobiids in the U.S. with our pest species belonging to several different genera. Some are called deathwatch beetles and Anobium punctatum is known as the furniture beetle.

Anobid powderpost beetles require a wood moisture content of 13-30% and so are usually found in poorly ventilated damp crawlspaces or in houses or out-buildings that have been unoccupied and unheated for some time. In homes, unfinished basements or garages can have infestations if damp enough. Although found throughout the U.S., anobiids are primarily a problem in the southeastern U.S. and in warm coastal states with high humidity. The amount of damage correlates with the moisture level of the wood and is greater in damp areas of a structure. Anobiids most often infest unfinished wood and if the right conditions exist, anobiids can move upward into living areas and may infest furniture or hardwood floors, especially in humid climates.

Infestations spread slowly, often starting in damp areas near the ground. Because the grub-like beetle larvae are feeding in wood that is in rarely visited parts of a home or other structure, the infestation is often not noticed until it has been underway for years. Larvae feed for 2-3 years on average before pupating in the wood. The first indications of an infestation are usually the tiny, round exit holes left by the adult beetles as they emerge from the wood. Holes range in size from 1/16 to 1/8 inch (1.6 to 3 mm) in diameter. Mated females will lay eggs in the same wood if moisture remains high enough.

Accompanying the holes are piles of frass directly underneath or streaming down the wood from the holes. The frass looks like very fine sawdust and is primarily wood that has been digested by the larvae. When the infestation is in a crawlspace or unused basement, the frass may be overlooked as just dust. There are slight differences in the frass of each group of powderpost beetles. Anibiid frass is powdery but includes tiny pellets that usually give the frass a gritty feel when rubbed between your fingers. The larval galleries inside the wood remain tightly packed with frass.

When you find what seem to be powderpost beetle exit holes in wood, the first question is always whether it;s an old infestation or one that is still active. Anobiids have only one beetle “emergence” per year. occurring from spring into summer. IF you miss an annual emergence, answering this question will be more difficult.

Check moisture levels of the wood. Wood with a moisture content below 12% is spring and summer will rarely support a beetle infestation. The infestation may have died out as the wood dried over time.

Look for exit holes in wood. Adult beetles emerge over a 3-4 week period from April to mid-summer, depending on your location and the species. At the time of your inspection, use a permanent marker to mark existing holes in crawlspaces or take a photo, and then check back later for new, unmarked holes. You’ll have to make sure that you check back after emergence time in your area to find new holes. if you’ve just missed adult emergence, don’t expect any new holes for another year.

Powderpost Beetles Frass

Look for fresh frass. At the time of your inspection, sweep up the “sawdust”, and dust off the exit holes so that you have a clean slate when you check back for new frass. Old frass will be yellowed and cakey. Fresh frass will be light-colored, loose, and powdery. BE careful not to confuse small quantities of frass that may sift out of holes naturally due to vibrations with piles pushed out by beetle emergence.

Look for adult beetles. Anobiid beetles can be hard to find since they are active at night and don’t live long. Some head for light so you may be able to find them, alive or dead, at windows or light fixtures or in spiderwebs, especially near foundation vents. Sometimes you can find beetles on the wood surface between dusk and midnight. Finding dead beetles does not necessarily mean a still active infestation. The beetles are 1/8 to 1/4 inch (3 mm – 6 mm) long, reddish-brown to nearly black, and elongate or cylindrical in shape. The head is hidden by the pronotum when viewed from above.

Break into the wood. This is destructive sampling and might be a last resort since it depends on finding the right spot in the wood at the right time. Not finding galleries or larvae in a piece of wood does not mean larvae are not developing unseen elsewhere.

Article is from Techletter For Pest Control Technicians – – Volume 34, No. 2 – Published by Pinto & Associates, Inc. 







Dave’s Soapbox: Hunters Make Better Pest Managers

Dave’s Soapbox: Hunters Make Better Pest Managers

By: David Mueller

First the moral of this story: Hunters make better pest managers because they are intensely alert and vigilant, and they prepare for success.

I was recently sitting in a duck blind waiting for birds to fly by when a thought popped into my mind: “The preparation and energy that I just put into this hunt is much like pest managers and fumigators put into their job.” Let’s examine this statement.

I set the alarm clock for 4:30 AM. I had a good breakfast before I started out. I packed the truck with decoys, hunting license, my new shot gun that I sighted and practiced shooting prior to the hunt. I had my Black Lab named Buddy excited and well trained prior to the opening day. I carried dog treats for those times when a pat on the head was not good enough. I knew exactly where I was going and what time I would arrive. I had
permission to hunt at this location prior to opening day.

My ‘bucket’ had a box of steel shot shells, a knife, a leash, a good flashlight and a backup flashlight with new batteries. The clothing was the correct camo for this marsh grass background. My waders were checked for leaks prior to leaving. My duck and goose calls were tuned up and ready to coax those wary ducks back within range of our duck blind.

It is dark in Indiana at 6:00 AM in December, but the sun starts creeping up the eastern horizon about 6:15 am. The first 30 minutes of duck hunting is when the birds like to
stretch their wings and look for somewhere to feed. A dozen decoys may attract them to take a look or better yet set their wings to land in your decoys. I’m starting to carve my own duck decoys.

The hunter is on constant alert from 360 degrees to be ready to sight in this shotgun. The hardest lesson in my life is how far do you lead a flying duck. The reaction of pulling the trigger, the shot gun shell discharging, the flight of the shot through the barrel and then 40 -50 yards toward the fast flying duck is always a mystery and challenge.

Now I shoot a duck flying by and it falls into the tall marsh grass. You don’t know if it is crippled or dead. Now is the time for your dog to do their job. Without a hunting dog the chances of finding this downed duck would be slim.

Buddy Video Screen Grab

Click here to watch Buddy make a duck retrieve.

Preparing for success: Hunters make better pest managers because they prepare, are vigilant, and they educate themselves with well-honed skills. The equipment they gather prior to the job makes them more successful. Identifying the pest is half the battle in
controlling the pest. A hunter doesn’t want to shoot an eagle when he thinks it is a goose or a grebe when he thinks it is a teal.

Hunters have the correct equipment and clothes for the outing. Flashlights are key to the success of the pest manager. So, don’t buy a cheap one, buy a professional one that performs in all situations. Scanners are now the norm in pest management. I would not want to take an under sized shot gun and shells to the field. When your customers need a fumigation, you don’t sell them a fogging.

Pheromones (OK, you knew this was coming) are lures like the duck or goose calls or the authentic looking decoys. Some pheromones work better than others, well carved and painted decoys in the correct place will look more realistic than others.

Dave and Buddy.JPEG

Dave and Buddy





INDIANAPOLIS –  Insects Limited and FSS will be hosting the 13th Fumigants & Pheromones Conference June 12-14, 2018 at the Indiana State Museum in downtown Indianapolis.

Throughout the past 25 years, this biennial conference has followed the theme of “Sharing Through Education”.   David Mueller, program organizer stated, “This conference is one you don’t want to miss.    Attendees and speakers from over 30 countries come together to share their experiences and offer an international perspective on protecting stored products”.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Steve Yaninek, former Department Head and current professor at the Department of Entomology, Purdue University. “We are honored to have Dr. Yaninek share his many stories and tell about pest management around the world”.

This conference will feature two days of speakers and classroom interaction, a special conference dinner, and two hands-on practical workshops to choose from.  For more information and conference registration visit www.insectslimited.comEarly registration ends April 1st.


Sharing Through Education

13th Fumigants & Pheromones Conference 

Save the Date: June 12-14, 2018

F and P conference logo

The 13th Fumigants & Pheromones conference and workshop is different from most trade meetings or scientific working groups. The speakers who are invited to present are industry experts with decades of experience. The practical information you receive at the workshop and the people you meet at these gatherings of like-minded professionals will make you better at your own trade.

The previous 12 conferences, since 1993, have offered updates in technology and regulations and created a network of friends who gather every 2 years to share
through education. In all, over 2,700 people from 60 different countries have attended this conference over the past 25 years. This truly is an international event that
focuses on sharing through education.

We hope to see you in Indy in June.

For more information visit

Conference Flyer

Rankings of Cities with the Most Clothes Moths

For the very first time, Insects Limited has released a ranking of the top clothes moth cities in the United States.

Clothes Moth Map

New York City topped the list in 2017, followed closely by Boston. Find the entire list of rankings below.

Clothes Moth
Photo by Patrick Kelley, Insects Limited

1. New York
2. Boston
3. Los Angeles
4. Santa Fe
5. Philadelphia
6. Chicago
7. San Francisco
8. Minneapolis
9. Washington DC
10. Seattle
11. Dallas
12. Wilmington, DE
13. Albuquerque
14. Orlando
15. Portland, OR

Clothes Moth Populations on the Rise
Similar to the trending that we have seen with the elevation of bed bug populations throughout the country, webbing clothes moths, Tineola bisselliella, appear to be on a rapid rise in many metropolitan areas (See Note below). Research has suggested that webbing clothes moths are prevalent in cities and are rarely found in rural areas (Krüger-Carstensen & Plarre, 2011). They do not typically come into our homes and businesses from natural reservoirs (E.g. bird nests, dead animals) unless those natural reservoirs are in an area heavily populated by people These moths instead travel from
person to person, hidden away in our belongings. They are identical to the German Cockroach in the fact that webbing clothes moths benefit from an association with humans and the habitats that humans create.
As we pass along our wool rugs & blankets, cashmere sweaters, horse-hair stuffed furniture, fur coats, and other materials made of animal-based fibers to other people, we are aiding in the spread of these moths. While the presence of webbing clothes moths in nature in completely rural areas is nearly non-existent, areas like the highly populated
northern portion of the Eastern seaboard (Maine to Washington DC) seem to have more than their share of this moth pest. There is evidence to suggest that in densely populated urban environments, the moths can move from residence to residence by flight alone. Keeping them from doing that is an essential element in keeping  their numbers down. To prevent the spread of this damaging insect, make sure that all incoming furniture, rugs or textiles are free of moths before they enter into your home. Install exclusion measures (door sweeps, window screens, etc.) to keep neighboring moth populations from entering your residence or business. Clothes moth pheromone traps are available to inform you:
1. If you have the moths
2. Where they might be coming from if you do have them

(See: or to purchase pheromone traps).

If you find suspected moth activity in small items such as sweaters or individual articles of clothing, these materials can be frozen for a 2-week period in any standard freezer or “super-heated” in a clothes dryer for 1 full hour on the hottest setting, to kill all stages of of the moth (egg, caterpillar, pupae and adult: Click here for video on clothes moth life-cycle). Larger items such as area rugs and furniture must be treated by a professional pest management service.

Note: The list of top cities was compiled based on the total number of sales of clothes moth traps into the greater metropolitan areas of each ranked city during the period of January 1 – December 31, 2017. The statement above that the webbing clothes moth populations are on the rise is based solely on increased sales of pheromone products related to this insect and an increase in customer inquiries about clothes moths over several decades.

Krüger-Carstensen, B., & Plarre, R. (2011). Outdoor trapping and genetical characterization of populations of the webbing clothes moth Tineola bisselliella (Lepidoptera: Tineidae) in the broader area of Berlin. Journal of Entomological and Acarological Research, 43(2), 129-135.

Clothes Moth Adult and Larvae

Larvae, pupa and adult stage of the webbing clothes moth, Tineola bisselliella
Photo by Patrick Kelley, Insects Limited


Parental Care from an Insect’s Perspective

Parental Care from an Insect’s Perspective

By: Pat Kelley, BCE – Insects Limited

Parents are some of the most influential and important figures in our lives. Let’s face it, without them we wouldn’t even be here! When making a list about the qualities of a good parent, we will probably add the attributes that they:
1. Provide a safe place to live
2. Provide food to eat
3. Give us the best chance that they can for us to
make it on our own in the world.


What we probably wouldn’t consider is that this list is also true for insect parents and their young. Insects don’t initially come across to us as the best caregivers, but nature provides plenty of examples that prove this to be wrong. In the food category, nearly
every female insect deposits her eggs on or near a food supply for her offspring. For example, clothes moths lay their eggs on cashmere wool, cigarette beetles lay
their eggs on tobacco or spices, and so on. This ensures those newly hatched eggs immediately have sustenance to grow.

Protection of Eggs
The defenseless egg stage in an insect’s life is the most susceptible to predators who can eat them. To protect against this, a few species go to the extent of having the females hold their eggs inside their body cavities until they begin to hatch. This type of live birth (called viviparity) protects the unborn eggs until they have a chance to physically run and hide from predators. An example of an insect that does this is the Madagascar
Hissing Cockroach, Gromphadorhina portentosa (see the photo and video attachment below).


A Madagascar hissing cockroach female holds her egg case within her body until the nymphs begin to hatch, ultimately giving live birth. Patrick Kelley – Insects Limited 2017

Sometimes, even the insect fathers take a protective role with their offspring. The male Giant Water Bug, Abadus herberti holds the unborn eggs of his progeny on his back until they are old enough to hatch out.  Upon laying the eggs, the mother physically glues
the eggs onto his back. The father then continuously does water aerobics and makes frequent trips to the surface to supply oxygen to the eggs. He is also quite adept at avoiding creatures that would like to eat him or his eggs. This type of protective parenting give the young giant water bugs several legs up on the competition!


A male giant water bug has his offspring glued to his back to protect them. C. ALLAN MORGAN Peter Arnold, Inc. 1998 Scientific American

Good parenting doesn’t always stop after the eggs are hatched either. Some species will protect the young nymphs or larvae as well as the eggs. Take for example, the Brazilian Tortoise Beetle, Acromis sparsa. The adult female tortoise beetle guards her youngsters from the time that they are eggs into their adolescence. She will round them up like sheep and hover over the top of them and use her broad wing covers to protect
them. The young larvae aid in their own defense as well by grasping onto their own feces with hooks at the end of the abdomens and waving it at any potential predator. Together they form an intimidating (and foul tasting) shield against enemies.

Generation to Generation?
Although parental care never goes beyond one generation in insects and it is usually only used in extremely harsh or unfavorable environments by a handful of species, it is still an effective plan to protect the young. Be it mankind, mammals, reptiles or
even the lowliest insects, creatures on this earth are set on making sure that their species survives to the next generation. Insect parenting is no exception.

Please Note
The article “Child Care Among Insects, Why do some insect parents risk their lives for their young?” by Douglas W. Tallamy, photographs by Ken PrestonMafham, published in the January 1999 copy of Scientific American was the source of much of the material in
this article. Thank you to them for the wonderful information and most of the outstanding photographs seen here.


A female Brazilian tortoise beetle hovers over her larvae. The larvae
wave droplets of feces from the ends of their abdomen to create a
protective shield against predators – Copyright 1998 Scientific American photograph by Ken Preston-Mafham

NYC Rodent Control Academy

NYC Rodent Control Academy

By: Tom Mueller – Insects Limited

As declared by Rick Simeone, the Director of the Department of Pest Control for New York City, “It’s science. It just comes down to science.” I was fortunate enough to attend the NYC Rodent Academy hosted by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in May. Let me tell you, that statement holds true. Dr. Bobby Corrigan did the majority of teaching throughout the academy. I have had the pleasure of listening to him speak many times, and every time I am amazed at his ability to captivate an audience with the science behind rodent pest control. It doesn’t matter if it is for an hour long presentation or a three day New York City academy; Dr. Corrigan has the talent and passion for talking about rats. He has a way of making his audience feel passionate about them as well.

On the academy’s first day we started with a single projected picture of a “gorgeous” rat. This picture led to an hour and a half discussion of rodent anatomy. What a fascinating start to what became a three day crash course including classroom learning as well as field training of rodent behavior and biology. I personally took sixteen pages of notes. Undoubtedly, the rodent program at each attendees’ company improved in more ways than one.

As for the classroom setting, academy attendees from four countries around the world and five states in the USA had the privilege of listening to speakers such as renowned Rodentologist Dr. Bobby Corrigan, and city officials such as the Director and Assistant
Commissioners for the NYC Pest and Animal Control sector of Health and Mental Hygiene. Dr. Robin Nagel, an Anthropologist from NYU captivated us on the history of New York City trash and how, since the 1850’s, humans have made it so conducive for rats to not only survive, but thrive in every square mile of Manhattan. Sylvia Kenmuir
from Target Specialty Products provided the group with information about Rodenticide labeling and federal regulations which seemed to enlighten the attendees no matter their experience. It is easy to see why the rat population is so prevalent in New York City. However, Caroline Bragdon from New York City’s Division of Environmental Health was able to give many ways New York City is attempting to reduce its rodent infestations by gaining a grasp on the extreme city wide trash and refuse problems.

Juvenile Rate on Hind Legs with caption

The organizers of the Rodent Academy, Bobby Corrigan, Carla Rossi, Karlette Sylvain, and Ryan Chan then gave us the opportunity to put our studies to use in the field. Split into teams and given a “Keen Observations Exercise,” we were tasked with traveling around to four predetermined locations to investigate the area for Active Rodent Signs (ARS). Our group discovered over sixty-eight signs of rodent activity among the locations. It is amazing how your eyes can be opened with the right education.

So why would a National Accounts Manager of a stored product insect pheromone manufacturing company want to attend a rodent academy? The answer: “It’s
science. It just comes down to science.”

Insects Limited and Fumigation Service and Supply are two companies that have based their entire existence on science based decisions. Find out your target pest’s biological requirements, remove those environmental factors, and the pests will either leave or they will die. It is amazing how many tactics from the rodent world can
transfer to stored product insects.

Tom Mueller is the National Accounts Manager for Insects Limited, Inc.